Finding Foundlings

tuffnell midland meckdenburgh brittain

Thanks to Family Detective researcher, Kassie Foran, for this blog post:

I stumbled upon a foundling one day in my research and it sparked an interest – in all our research, we rely on facts and accurate recordings to trace through family history, however in the case of a foundling, the family story typically starts with that one individual. Not only does the baptism record lack the usual information which we rely on for conducting our research – name of mother and father, profession, date of birth, place of birth, but in the case of foundlings, their very name is made up too.

I started saving the baptism records of foundlings – finding it both interesting, and incredibly sad that the baby was usually given the surname after the place they were found. Have a look at the records in the images above – you can see the exact details as to how they got their names.

Babies were typically abandoned due to illegitimacy or inability of the parents to care for the child. The welfare of the children was often administered by charitable organisations, most notably, the Foundling Hospital in London.

Back in the 18th and 19th century if a mother was led to abandon her child, she would often leave them with a scrap of fabric, keeping another scrap herself, thus proving their relationship to one another if they were ever reunited. In 2010 the Daily Telegraph ran a heart-breaking piece about the babies left at the Foundling Hospital, and the stories behind the scraps of fabric.

Whilst in the west today, children are abandoned much less frequently, we still continue to hear stories of adults who were abandoned as children now looking for their parents. On the Family Detective facebook page we recently shared details of Steve, dubbed ‘Gary Gatwick’ who was abandoned in Gatwick Airport in 1986.  He is utilising social media to help his hunt to find his family.

Although it’s incredibly sad that foundlings begin their lives with no known relatives, it’s heart-warming to know that they were rescued, looked after, and given a chance at life – and that’s a good thing.

January News from the Family Detective Bureau

Karrie Drake

Karrie Drake

Well, who’d have thought that January would be such a busy month for the team at Family Detective? There was me thinking I might have some spare time to catch up on my own family history but no. We’ve have such an influx of new clients since Christmas, it’s been ‘head’s down and keep running.’

Many of our new projects are for later in the year. When people realise there’s a significant birthday coming up, or a big wedding anniversary, they look for something special to give; something unique. So we have projects being prepared for an 80th birthday, several 60ths and a Golden Wedding anniversary. If you need a little inspiration for a special gift this year, take a look at our website and see what we offer.

In other news, we had our first big breakthrough using the 1939 Register this week. We desperately needed an accurate birth-date to confirm whether we had found the correct birth record or not. One of the best things about this newly available document is that precise birth-dates were asked for. What’s more, Find My Past announced this week that the Register will be free to all those who have a full subscription. So, some good news if you’ve been avoiding using it because of the cost. See my previous blog post Will the 1939 Register help your family history research? for more information.

So, it’s back to work for me! I hope you’re making the most of all this awful weather, and making your own family history discoveries! Happy time-travelling!




The Perfect Last-Minute Gift!

Do you have a loved one who is impossible to buy for? Have you been racking your brains for weeks trying to think of the perfect gift? Well, allow us to help you!

Family Detective produces beautifully crafted, well-researched Family History research packages that make the perfect gift. Our presentations take 12-16 weeks to complete, so we can’t get the finished product to you for Christmas but there is a solution — The Family Detective Gift Certificate. This entitles the recipient to a complete Family History research package, to be completed in the New Year. So not only do you get to give them a fantastic gift on the day, but also, they can look forward to talking us through what they already know and telling us what they’d love to find out. They can be part of the adventure.

Purchase a gift certificate from us, and we’ll post it to you recorded delivery, to arrive before Christmas. (We can only guarantee this service if you order before 4:00 pm on Monday 21st December.)

Don't worry if you're unsure about what package is the most suitable. Our researchers will talk you through all the options to make sure you're completely happy with your purchase before any payment is taken.

If you’d rather contact us via email, simply click on the following link to let us know your contact details, and we’ll be in touch:

Congratulations to our Winners!


Big congratulations to the lucky winners of our competition from November! The two randomly selected winners were Maggie Heggs from Shepshed, Leicestershire who wins a year’s subscription to Ancestry and Sarah Burton from Exminster, Devon who now has a year’s subscription to Find My Past.

Good luck with your Family History research ladies!

Thank you to everyone who entered, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog at for useful hints, tips and stories from Family Detective.